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How to disguise slacking at the office

Looking busier than you are is easier than it may seem.

Penelope WhitsonOccasionally I take time out from liberating the greengrocer’s apostrophe to look up and ponder what it is that the rest of the office, and in fact everyone in my building, actually does all day. I know what I do – it’s very important and I slave over it and fortuitously earn enough dollars to buy posters of those hot One Direction lads. But all the other workers out there? What the hell are they doing? Ideally I gather they should be working. Indeed, they usually appear to be doing so. But sometimes I wonder. I suspect and I have my theories.

In not so short, sometimes I think that other people are faffing about and not doing nearly as much as they make out, but are managing to fool all those around them into thinking they are very, very busy and should probably be given a gargantuan pay rise.

You’re bound to know at least one person who makes a complicated aerobics routine complete with splits out of how busy they are and how they just don’t have any time and then somehow delegation takes place and yet they’re still busy and oh my god no one understands. They even manage to speak in italics, underlining and bold, which is a skill I would very much like to acquire. Often they complain about the photocopier being jammed as well – usually with their printing – but somehow they never fix it. Too busy! Have to be at the other end of the office STAT.

Are you concerned that perhaps you don’t look busy enough? Aren’t getting the recognition you deserve, quietly beavering (such a good word) away in your pod? Well, there’s a knack to looking busy when you’re not – and emailing your colleagues pictures of cats that look like Hitler is not one of them, sphincter wheezingly funny though these are. Have you considered walking around the office wearing a frown while clutching a piece of paper instead?

Sending emails late at night about serious topics not involving felines can ensure you look committed to your job and the company. However, to those colleagues who would prefer The Big Bang Theory was not interrupted by their BlackBerry pinging, it might also make you look like a total suck up – it depends somewhat on how relevant the email is and how smart your colleagues are. This blog is a perfect example of how to make a lot of fuss without saying anything particularly genuine. Take note.

Other options include being first in the office every morning and last to leave at night. Just because you’re there doesn’t mean you’re actually doing anything useful. I can take half an hour to make a cup of tea some mornings, so slowly do I move around the kitchen, chatting to colleagues, reading the paper, saying things like:  "Did you see that email? No, not the one with the Hitler cats. The one with this month’s figures in it."

See how easy it is?

Are you a slacker? Do you work with slackers? Do you have advice you’d like to share on slacking? (Important note for the easily insulted – wearing slacks doesn’t mean you are a slacker, just that you should upgrade to trousers.)